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Common Neck Pain

Posted in Neck Pain Disorders on Aug 22, 2019

What is Common Neck Pain?

Can upper cervical adjustments help neck pain?

Neck pain is the #1 most common symptom that people who attend our Brisbane upper cervical specific practice report.

(FYI: #2 is headaches or migraines, and #3 is dizziness or vertigo). 

So as many people we are able to help tell us, neck pain is not just “neck pain.” It’s a sign that your brain, your spinal cord, and your nerves are not healthy.

If you have been dealing not just with acute neck pain, but chronic issues, you are probably well aware how much it affects other things in your brain and body: headaches, migraines, dizziness, vertigo, back pain (or pain everywhere in your body), brain fog, moodiness, your ability to concentrate and remember things.

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Your neck is your lifeline between your brain and body! So are you taking care of it like you know you need to?

You probably already do all kinds of things to help with your neck pain: asking your spouse to rub your shoulders; stretching your head and your neck; seeing a massage therapist, physiotherapist or chiropractic. And all these things are good!

… But what if there is something more going on that you DON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUTAnd it isn’t just stress or bad posture either.

You may be here because you are looking for a “Brisbane neck pain specialist” or a “North Lakes chiropractor” or a just a “natural treatment for neck pain.”

Whatever has brought you here, I want to share with you a unique approach to healthcare that focuses on the alignment of the bones in your neck - and how we may be able to help your neck pain with a powerful, gentle and precise correction.

But before I share how we may be able to help you, let me explain why what you’re doing right now is probably only making your condition and neck pain worse!

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How to “Read” Common Neck Pain

Odds are if you experience neck pain that you stretch your neck sideways - sometimes where the thing goes “click” and releases. You probably already know this isn’t good for you, but it feels good at the time, which is why you do it.

Sound about right?

Did you know that I can tell if people have a neck problem just by looking at them? Posture says a lot about a person, and it’s not about laziness! Posture is a reflection of what is going on beneath the surface with the structure of your spine. It reveals if you have a simple problem, or if you have layers of injuries jammed atop each other. It reveals where you feel the stress sin your body the most, whether pain at the base of your skull, pain between your shoulder blades, or pain at the base of your spine.

And so the tension that you feel, you innately know that something isn’t right, which is the reason that you stretch your neck sideways! And I see that too! When I see someone passing on the street subconsciously stretch their neck sideways, I know that they are experiencing neck pain … and they are trying to release and unlock the thing on their own.

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IF your body was able to fix the problem on its own, if would have been able to do it by now. So what happens is that your brain makes certain compensations in the other joints in your neck: increasing the flexibility in some and reducing the flexibility in others.

Here’s the problem: when you stretch your neck, the vertebrae that go “click” are the ones that are already moving too much. They aren’t the problem! The reason it feels good is because you get a local endorphin click … but as you know, your muscles tighten back up in just a few minutes. Why? Because they are compensating for something else: i.e., the “something else” that is actually stuck in your neck and the original source of your neck pain. 

So you can do all the self-stretches you want, but that ultimately isn’t enough to fix the problem.

That is one of the best pieces of advice that I can give you or anyone who experiences neck pain in any form. If the problem doesn’t go away within 3 days - or is persistent over a 3 weeks period - the problem CANNOT go away on it’s own. And even if your brain stops paying attention to the pain messages, the underlying issue will still be there … growing and evolving into something potentially more sinister.

 

What can cause Neck Pain

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So let me ask you: how long have you been experiencing neck pain?

And be honest. Is this a new thing, or has it been around for a long time even if it wasn’t severe enough that you realised you needed to do something about it?

A lot of things have been said about computers, phones, and bad posture all causing neck pain. I will respectfully disagree. If this was true, 100% of people who use these devices would have neck pain … and people who lived before these types of devices would never had experienced neck pain.

So there is something else going on, and we have to be careful not to confuse cause-and-effect. 

Yes, computers, phones and bad posture all all things that contribute towards neck pain. However, if the problems persist beyond using these things, it must mean that they are only the tip of the iceberg. 

So you can spend all your time, money and effort trying to treat the symptoms by fixing up your desk, your posture etc, but if the majority of the iceberg is still there - untreated - the problems will keep happening.

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So let’s look for just a few minutes at the structure of your neck and how it relates to neck pain. There are 7 vertebrae in your neck separated by a thick slab or cartilage, the intervertebral disc, which acts as a shock-absorber and facilitates movement. With the lower vertebrae in your neck, the bulk of the movement is guided by the angle of the joints along the backside called facet joints. The exception are the joints in your upper neck - the C1 vertebra (atlas) and C2 vertebra (axis) - which are not separated by a disc, but glide directly over each other. The C1 and C2 provide the bulk of your total neck movement: 50% of all the nodding, and 50% of all the rotation. The remaining movement is evenly dispersed among the lower cervical vertebrae C3-C7.

The muscles in your neck are what allow for movement, and the ligaments in your neck are what prevent your neck from moving too much. Both the muscles and ligaments in your neck especially are dense with nerve receptors that detect joint position (aka prorioception) , pressure and pain (aka nociception]. The vertebrae in the neck also contain the spinal cord and the nerves that go down to all part of your lower body with an exceptionally large number of nerve fibres going to you arms and hands.

So when we’re talking about the cause of neck pain, often the underlying issue is something that has damaged the structural integrity or ability of your neck to move. The result if that your brain detects the abnormalities as neck pain.

These types of abnormalities are usually not massive injuries like broken bones, dislocations or internal bleeding. You would have other signs or symptoms if that was the case. Alternatively, what I am describing are injuries commonly only 1-5mm in side - the thickness of a single finger nail - that affect the normal alignment and movement of the bones in your neck. 

As small as that may sound, those could of millimetres, if they affect the function of your nervous system - and especially if the problem goes unaddressed for months, years or even decades, this small problem can go on to create very big problems:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Tingling pain in the hands, arms or legs (including sciatica)
  • Nerve pain disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
  • Plus a whole host of other conditions you may never have realised are connected with your neck.

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What to do about Neck Pain Problems

Just because you do not experience neck pain 100% does not make you immune either! In fact, many people with neck problems don’t experience any neck pain at all

There are 3 kinds of nerves in your spinal cord through your neck: a) sensory nerves, b) motor nerves, and c) autonomic nerves, which control things like blood flow in your body and organs. The thing about it is that you can only FEEL if there is a problem such as neck pain if the sensory nerves are affected. 

You can have a crooked head, crooked back, crooked posture or other things wrong with your health but still be “feeling fine.” And the unfortunate result is that you can convince yourself that you are healthy when you really aren’t!

So what do you do about it?

Well, this first thing as I already mentioned is that you should try to stretch, massage or exercise the muscles in your neck to see if the neck pain goes away. If it does not - or if it keeps coming back as soon as you stop - it is a sure-fire sign that there is something going on, and it’s going to take a bit more help to resolve the issue.

Here is where we may be able to help you. At Atlas Health Australia, our focus is on the health of your neck … not just for your muscles and so that you can “feel good” but to make sure that the most important part of your body - your brainstem and nervous system - are able to function as well as possible.

Because if your body is working 100%, there’s no reason for you to be experiencing neck pain!

 

Most common reasons Adults have Neck Pain Problems

We already talking about the common reasons adults experience neck pain in the first place: computers, phones, tablets, etc. However, those devices did not create the problem in the first place. Remember: they are only the tip of the iceberg.

In my experience, the #1 reason why adults have neck pain problems is because they have an old neck injury that was never properly addressed, and it has been allowed to grow up over years or even decades.

Think of some of the more common injuries that you have likely experienced as an adult:

  • Car accident (and the effects of whiplash can take months or even years to develop)
  • Sports injuries (e.g., tackles, trips, sprains, strains)
  • Extreme activities (e.g., bungee jumping, skydiving, or anything where your spine experiences a sudden “jolt”)
  • Smacking your Head on Things (e.g., car doors, boots, cupboards)

The potential list in endless! And as we already said, these aren’t the kind of things that always cause broken bones or dislocated … but they are the very kinds of things that can cause a neck injury where things shift that 1-5mm that has the potential to cause neck pain down the track unless addressed.

 

 

Most common reasons Children have Neck Pain Problems

Children are not immune to neck pain either! It goes to show that the believe that neck pain is “because they are getting older” is false. If it was true, everyone would get neck pain as they get older, and no one would have it when they are younger.

Consider the examples where children can suffer head or neck injuries:

  • Learning to walk
  • Learning to ride a bike or skateboard
  • Sports (swimming, football, dancing, etc)

Even the process of birth is not without its perils. Enough stress - especially with a caesarian, forceps, vacuum, breech or prolonged, complicated birth - can be more then enough to misalign the bones in the neck from the moment that a child is born!

At that age, aside from cry, there is very little that a child can do. However, as they grow up with the head and neck in this abnormal position, it may cause other compensations in that child’s body, which can predispose them to other troubles down the track such as neck pain, headaches, migraines, etc

For that reason - and remembering that only 1/3 of the nerve types in the neck produce pain in the first place - having regular neck health checkup should be considered just as important as going to the dentist for a tooth checkup. … Arguably even more important because your neck is the lifeline between your brain and your entire body.

 

Diagnostic for Neck Pain Problems

So what types of tests can help to identify the source of your neck pain and what you can do about it?

Our North Lakes chiropractic office serves the greater Brisbane and Sunshine Coast communities, proving a unique method of healthcare known as Blair upper cervical care. Now, when you read that last part, you may have through to yourself, “I already have a North Lakes chiropractor,” or “I saw a Brisbane chiropractor before, but it didn’t work.”

Well, here is where I want to emphasise the key differences in the work that we do that makes us different not only from general chiropractors, but also from physiotherapists, massage therapists, and from other healthcare professions.

Foremost, everything that we do is customised, or tailored for your unique situation. Your brain, your body, your neck: there is only one “you” in the entire world! So if we just do the same thing that we do for everyone else, will it work? Not as well as if we customise the process for you.

So the first thing that we do in our North Lakes chiropractor office are a series of physical and neurological tests to determine why you are experiencing neck pain, and how it is affecting your health in general. To assist, we have our own x-ray equipment on site, which allows us to take images from specialised angles that isn’t done in medical or even other chiropractic offices. Remember: you are unique! So unless we understand what your “normal” state is, there is no way that we can know what “abnormal” is.

One of the tests that we use is paraspinal infrared thermography, a tool that we actually use on every office visit to measure your health and to know that the results of your care are taking you in the right direction. So when it comes to your wellbeing, we don’t leave things to chance.

These additional details often reveal very particular things about the structure of your neck. The result is that we are able to prescribe a completely different course of care including physical exercises plus activities that you want to avoid. For example, for some people, the worst movement they can do to create neck pain is stare at their phone all day. For other people, it’s changing a lightbulb.  Do you think it might be important to know what kind of activities you should or should not be doing if you have neck pain?

That is what we want to know so that we can help you get the best possible results for the longest-lasting neck pain relief

 

 

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Treatment for Neck Pain Problems

If you can be 100% optimally well, how much LESS than that is okay with you? 90%? 80%? 50%?

So even if we aren’t talking about concussions, fractures or even spinal cord injuries, neck pain is not just a minor inconvenience. It is a potential sign of an important health problem.

Plus it can still show up in all kinds of ways that diminish the quality of your life:

  • Sleeping (How much $ have you spent trying to find the right pillow?!)
  • Spending time with your family or friends (How many times haven’t you been able to enjoy yourself because of your neck pain?)
  • Enjoying your down time (How many times have you just had to rest or lie down because the neck pain was too great?).

 

If you can envision your life as it is with neck pain, can you imagine what your life would look like without it? What would you be able to do?

Whether you think that your neck pain is only a minor inconvenience - or if you’re at your wit’s end because you think you’ve tried everything to find relief - we may be able to offer you a different kind of solution. 

Our North Lakes chiropractic office uses the Blair upper cervical specific technique, and we are the only Brisbane chiropractor with advanced certification in this unique, powerful yet gentle approach.

If you are ready for a change - to try something different to improve your quality of life - please contact us at 07 3188 9329, or send us a message to schedule an appointment. We will be happy to assist you in any way that we can.

Your neck is your lifeline to wellbeing, and so let us help you take care of it.

 

References

Caccese JB, Buckley TA, Tierney RT, et al. Sex and age differences in head acceleration during purposeful soccer heading. Res Sports Med. 2017 Oct 25:1-11. doi: 10.1080/15438627.2017.1393756. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29067816

Côté P, Yu H, Shearer HM, et al. Non-pharmacological management of persistent headaches associated with neck pain: A clinical practice guideline from the Ontario protocol for traffic injury management (OPTIMa) collaboration. Eur J Pain. 2019 Jul;23(6):1051-1070. doi: 10.1002/ejp.1374. Epub 2019 Feb 28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30707486

Daligadu J, Haavik H., Yielder PC, et al. Alterations in cortical and cerebellar motor processing in subclinical neck pain patients following spinal manipulation. Manipulative Physiol Therap. 36(8); 2013:527-537. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24035521

Nolet PS, Emary PC, Kristman VL, et al. Exposure to a motor vehicle collision and the risk of future neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PM R. 2019 Apr 25. doi: 10.1002/pmrj.12173. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31020768

Shahar D and Sayers MGL. Prominent exostosis projecting from the occipital squama more substantial and prevalent in young adult than older age groups. Scientific Reports. 8;3354:20 Feb 2018. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21625-1 

Taylor DN. A theoretical basis for maintenance spinal manipulative therapy for the chiropractic profession. J of Chiropr Humanities (2011) 18, 74–85. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342827/

Teng CC, Chai H, Lai DM, Wang SF. Cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility in young and middle-aged adults with or without a history of mild neck pain. Man Ther. 2007 Feb;12(1):22-8. Epub 2006 Jun 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16777468

Wong JJ, Shearer HM, Mior S, et al. Are manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the OPTIMa collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1598-1630. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2015.08.024. Epub 2015 Dec 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707074

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